Baited For The Bite – 28th December 2022

When the rain pours
Is it angry at man?
The anger addict shouts
At all the clouds he can
Looking for a reason
To again raise his voice
Practice becomes instinct
The anger addicts’ choice
Upset by words written
Baited for the bite
The anger addict screaming
That he is always right
Finally, breath runs out
Wasted time disappeared
No one ever listened
As the anger addict feared
Proved himself correct
With nothing left to say
Quietly, proudly satisfied
Happy in his own way


There is no complete life. There are only fragments. We are born to have nothing, to have it pour through our hands.

James Salter

Today I’m feeling:
Happy
Today I’m grateful for:
Dutchie, JubJib, Sheena and Khet for working hard to organise a fun lesson (scavenger hunt in the park opposite the school) for the last one of the year for their class. They even pushed me along to get going with things today. They all learned a lot about organising and planning and how throwing a bunch of people of students into the mix will likely fuck up those plans!
The best thing about today was:
The happy faces of the class when I told them we’d be doing the rest of the class in the park. They didn’t know what to expect but they were surely not disappointed when I told them to put their books away!
What was out of your control today and how did you handle it?
As usual, these will be my classes. I think outside of those there wasn’t anything really exciting that got too wacky. In my 2/7 class Gun became particularly annoying and instead of confronting and escalating further I just tried to ignore him and dobbed him in to his homeroom teacher. I like Gun even though he’s crude, rude and lazy but he stops other students from learning and that’s something I can’t accept.
Something I learned today?
I learned that tomorrow I have to wake up at 5 am. I know that other information entered my brain today but it’s shoved somewhere at the back and right now, getting up early is what’s on my mind as I’m laying here in bed wondering when I might actually fall asleep!
Add a photo that makes you smile every time you see it.
Our first king-size mattress. It would be a while before we got a bed. Either way, Amy made claim on her part of the bed immediately.

Nicha took this picture because I was helping her and another student with some reading. Whilst I wasn’t looking she unlocked the photo app and snapped this selfie. I found it a few hours later and cracked up. Nicha’s English is very poor but she is smart and can work out ways to look as if she is able. That’s fine for now but will trip her up in the future. She’s picking up things though. I doubt if English will ever play a big part in her life but I hope she learns that learning is its own reward.

Vienna 180 A.D. – 27th December 2022

Push the barbarians back
To the river banks
Left alive for one day
To practice giving thanks
Soon ends the reign of one
Another body left vacated
Remembered then forgotten
The future we’re all fated


You can only know the good life if you know yourself. Facts won’t ever help you be happy. Unless that fact is ‘I know who I am.’

Timothy, Musings on Self-Education

Today I’m feeling:
Reasonably happy
Today I’m grateful for:
The vet for checking Tigger and his skin problem. He’s got some fungal skin infection that makes blisters though he doesn’t seem to care about it at all. I’m also grateful I had free time to be able to take him this afternoon and drop Amy at her parents too. Also grateful that on advising that I would have to take Thursday off to go to Lampang got told that there are no classes anyway so it’s not a problem.
The best thing about today was:
Again, helping some of my poorer students with some reading. It makes me happy to see them try and to slowly improve themselves. I could tell that one student, Pin, was particularly happy to complete reading the text after a long struggle.
What was out of your control today and how did you handle it?
Waking up in the morning and finding out that Amy’s uncle passed away during the night and that meant changes to our plans which we couldn’t be sure about at that time and would decide during the day. So when I got home Amy said the funeral would be on Thursday and that we will go but I told her that I had to be at school, I had to teach and also I’d taken two days off recently to help with other things so taking another day was gonna be a little bit difficult. Anyway, I sent a message to Kru Mai saying that I would have to go to the funeral in Lampang and I would organise work for the kids to do in my absence. Luckily he replied that Thursday was going to be New Year’s activities and there were no classes anyway so everything was fine. Now I just have to prepare myself for a six-hour round-trip drive on Thursday.
Something I learned today?
Earn didn’t come to school today because she was ‘heartbroken’ over some unrequited love and she had video-called to her friends and I talked with her a little but it was too noisy in the class to understand. Later I talked with her friends and they all said that she is not strong which I found surprising because she comes across as quite independent and strong-willed. I sent her a message to not let her happiness depend on other people and she said she was ok now, was over it and would be back in school tomorrow. The troubles of the heart! Haha, so easily brushed off at this age.
Have you ever had surgery? What for?
Only minor surgery. I had a vasectomy when I was 42 or thereabouts. Then, about seven years ago I’d hurt my elbows from repetitive strain due to making coffee. A specialist recommended taking out a part of the tendon in my wrist, doing some magic with it and then injecting it back into my elbows. I can’t remember the procedure name and I have to say it didn’t really work but I did discover the wonders of tramadol as a post-surgery painkiller. I’d never felt better! My elbows remain an issue and my coffee-making career was done.

I took this picture because Amy had to go and stay at her parent’s house to take care of grandma as her mum and dad went to Lampang because uncle passed away yesterday and they will help arrange things. As well as taking care of grandma she had to walk Leo who is just bursting with energetic excitement he dragged Amy along on his walk. He slobbers and is smelly, I had to change my clothes when I got home.

In This House – 26th December 2022

The open door
Inviting

Fresh air and
Foreigners

(Presents under the
Tree)

Coffee fills this
Place

Two cups then
Go

*format from The Red Wheelbarrow by William Carlos Williams


Every path is the right path. Anything might have been anything else and had just as much meaning to it.

Tennessee Williams

Today I’m feeling:
Happy, a little tired from noisy classes
Today I’m grateful for:
The salad seller at the market again. Amy told me she would be out for dinner when I got home so I rode off to the market not sure what I would decide to have and this time I went back to the salad which I haven’t had for a while now. It was great.
The best thing about today was:
Having fun in my classes despite the kids being noisy and lazy. I made Nam and Aoi laugh when they sometimes get angry with me pushing them. Goya was loud and hard-working and enjoying things and at the end, Gam happily stayed back to finish her work whilst I played around with Fah who was waiting for her.
In the morning I helped Dena, Nicha and Namkhing individually with some reading and sent the top 4 off to investigate and prepare for our scavenger hunt which we should have on Wednesday if all goes to plan. I think that I’ve got my mind in the right place for these kids now.
I also found out today that we have Friday and Monday off for the new year holiday. Cool!
What was out of your control today and how did you handle it?
The kids in the morning were particularly noisy so I moved a few of them around which helped for a while. As I was trying to help them with reading and pronunciation most were just talking with each other so I stopped and told them I wouldn’t help them anymore and to record themselves reading the passage. I almost lost it but distracted myself by talking with the top 4 as described above, so at least I still felt useful. Slowly students started to come and ask for my help, realising they should have been listening before. They all did it and did it well enough in the end. There are different ways to get to the destination.
Something I learned today?
Tangmo has got a new friend and decided to bring them here tonight. I thought it was ‘Mo on the terrace but then saw it was a slightly thinner shape and when I went to open the door it ran off. Later I went out to see if it was still around when I thought I saw it in the darkness but then Tangmo ran out to me. I went to get the rope for him and then saw the other dog cautiously nearby. It wouldn’t come close but was curious. I threw the rope for ‘Mo who collected it and then ran out with it, then to chase the new dog up the road and out of sight with the rope flowing behind him from his mouth…probably never to be seen again! The rope, that is. Dopey ‘Mo will be back tomorrow wondering why I have no rope to play with anymore.
What could you let go of, for the sake of harmony?
I’m not sure that I’m holding on to anything these days. I’ve let go of most things that have caused me trouble, often, maybe too often, by avoidance or running away, but now just by forgiveness and forgetting. I don’t make other people’s problems mine anymore.
Sometimes I still hold on to the point that I should be trying to stuff as much information into my student’s heads as possible and whilst that may be suitable for one or two kids it doesn’t lead to harmony in the classroom. So I do usually let that go anyway.

I took this picture because I want to remember the view when leaving home. This house has been more of a home for me than anywhere else but still, it’s hard to appreciate it whilst living here. Homes are often created through nostalgia and the memories of everything that occurred there. One day I may look at this photo and think about all the things that I was part of here, which may as simple as reading in the hammock, eating on the terrace or managing the garden.

Recognition Of Reality – 22nd December 2022

Am I sitting down yet?
Are my feet touching the floor?
No recognition of reality
Is it worth existing anymore
Am I breathing air?
Is blood pumping through my veins?
No recognition of a life itself
No usefulness remains

*inspired by a story from Seneca


You determine the quality of your mind by the nature of your daily thoughts.

Robert Greene, Daily Laws

Today I’m feeling:
Happy but a little on edge
Today I’m grateful for:
Our air fryer which nicely cooked the Hainan ginger fake chicken I ate for dinner with rice and cucumber (to counter the hot chilli sauce dressing). Amy has made me 3 servings to freeze for when she has gone too. I suppose I could learn to use the fryer too but I just don’t bother cooking by myself.
The best thing about today was:
Undoubtedly, both my classes which I took a very relaxed attitude towards whilst still having the kids semi-engaged with activities. Even the kids that get annoyed with me did some work and seemed to enjoy what we were doing. Some days I love them all. Today was one of those days. Tomorrow should be too. One class making Christmas cards and another two just doing online quizzes and then it’s the weekend again (finally – last night I thought it would be Friday today until I realised it wouldn’t and felt the energy drain out of me!)
What was out of your control today and how did you handle it?
Amy is grumpy today, maybe PMT, so I’m trying to not bite at her and let it pass. I’m not always successful and she got angry when I misheard her about something and reacted badly. I let it blow over and apologised for misunderstanding and just tried to carry on as if nothing happened. I don’t think we’ll have good communication for the rest of the night, so let it lie and wake up tomorrow to a brand new sunny day, or at least we get to start again.
Something I learned today?
Hayden has Covid again. Hopefully, it’s not as bad as the first time and he recovers soon. I messaged Ellen too, who I haven’t been in contact with for about six months and since China relaxed their lockdown policy a couple of weeks ago, she and many of her clients got Covid too. I think China’s tough covid policy was the best way to deal with it and hopefully, now the virus is weaker there will be fewer deaths from infections. It’s amazing to me that other countries didn’t take it as seriously.
What tattoo do you want and where would you put it?
The next tattoo I get will be some Cardiacs lyrics on my right calf. I also want to get a Boognish tattoo but not quite sure where yet. Still thinking about the weird Trumans Water Spasm Smash cover too.

I took this picture because there’s spiders living in the trees!

Bubbles and Beans – 13th December 2022

Comfort is the refuge of the petty man
Trudging along without a plan
Distracted by familiar patterns seen
You’re a human doing not a human being
Can you find within your space
A place without a human trace?
Quiet the symbols and the words
Talk to the rocks and the birds


The concept of greatness entails being noble, wanting to be by oneself, being able to be different, standing alone and having to live independently.

Nietzsche

Today I’m feeling:
Ok, mellow enough
Today I’m grateful for:
Nong Nam and Nong Aoi for testing my patience today. I asked them to do something in class and they refused so I asked them to leave, to which they immediately complied. It was a little comical but it was good that they just left. Better for everyone.
The best thing about today was:
I got home early again and went off for a bike ride with Bruno and we actually ended up at the place we intended for once. When we got there there was a big building and a sign for the area: ‘Non-Hunting Area’. It was the end of the road and we were kind of interested to walk up the mountain a bit behind the building. It seemed we disturbed the people ‘working’ there as the five or six dogs they had came running and barking. I have no idea what these people do there and I’m pretty sure we woke most of them up!
After a few minutes, the dogs settled down and we talked with ‘the boss’ for a bit, who suggested coming in the morning time when it’s more pretty. The dogs started sniffing and licking around us and had now become very curious and friendly. They were well-kept and beautiful.
It was a quick and nice ride all-in-all, through the valley and to the edge of the mountain. Another little part of the area explored.
What was out of your control today and how did you handle it?
Last night I slept very poorly though it was mostly a case of being uncomfortable and tossing and turning through the night the result of which had me expecting to feel very tired today. To try to ward this off though I stood in front of the bathroom mirror and told myself I was feeling good and I would feel good all day. I knew I had two classes and planned to go for a ride in the afternoon, which I could have easily blown off if I wanted to rest but somehow today I felt a little more motivated and wanted to try to overcome this recent lethargy.
Something I learned today?
I learned from Bruno what a tapioca tree looks like and that under each tree can be a great number of large tubers from which a few different things can be made. When I was little my mum used to make tapioca pudding for me and for some reason as Bruno was talking about these tubers I was imagining them to be full of tapioca pearls which simply fell out of it. I realised my stupidity once I saw a picture of a cut tuber though! Duh! Apparently, they are easy to grow and of course, as soon as we rode around a bit we saw them everywhere.

I took this picture because I had had enough of two of my students who were rude and disrespectful to me in class (see above) so I told them to get out. I was upset with them but I wasn’t in a bad mood and I laughed even more when another student (Jet) handed this drawing to me.

To The Wolves – 9th December 2022

The wolves are gathering
Circling their prey
Armed with razor claws
Wet teeth on display
Surrounded by enemies
Fallen down ill
Fears turned to acceptance
Of the coming kill
Hot breath drinks blood
Flesh torn and ripped
Life flows away
Once so tightly gripped
Now the hunger sated
Left in the soft snow
The body reconciles
The way we all go


The future of the human race will likely depend on our ability to transcend this tribalism and to see our fate as interconnected with everyone else’s.

Robert Greene

Today I’m feeling:
Happy and relaxed
Today I’m grateful for:
The confusion caused with communication in our school as there was a meeting in the afternoon that meant we didn’t have classes. It was not clear if we were supposed to attend this meeting, along with all the students and there was enough confusing information that it meant I could sneak away, come home and have a nice afternoon nap! I can see my attitude to miscommunication is positive when the outcome works in my favour like this and luckily in this part of the school everything generally works out like this. This was not the case in our other schools.
The best thing about today was:
Listening to the Pitchblende album at high volume after Amy went out for the night and I ate a weed gummy. I always liked Pitchblende and their music is not easy to latch on to. Last night took it to the next level. If I hadn’t been getting sleepy I would’ve listened to the whole album again. As it was I hopped into bed and fell asleep listening to the jazzcore podcast which was also terrific.
What was out of your control today and how did you handle it?
As I was driving dad’s van back from our Mae Chan dinner, all the u-turns were closed off by police, which happens when a member of the royal family comes to visit Doi Tung and they want the motorcade to be able to smoothly pass on through. This meant we couldn’t make our exit for the last 200 metres home and we were instructed to pull over to the left and turn our lights off and wait for it to pass. Amy was a little frustrated and said “fucking stupid” and her dad was annoyed at where I pulled over and wanted to move 5 metres forward but everyone told him it doesn’t matter though by this time he’d jumped out of the car indicating he was going to drive now. He got back in the passenger seat and I was just bemused by everything. Amy’s dad has some weird reactions sometimes and I don’t get it at all. I can’t see any connection between the way Thai kids react and the way he does. It’s like an alien mindset to me that I just can’t understand. It seems to be cultural but most reactions I can see some sense in but sometimes his are just bizarre. I’m curious about how his thinking works! Anyway, I agree with Amy that it’s fucking stupid to inconvenience so many people like this (hundreds and hundreds of police have to stand around for up to six hours preparing for this)but there doesn’t need to be a reaction to it. In the end, we only had to wait a few minutes and I calmly sat and waited until we could go again and we were home without too much delay.
Something I learned today?
I’m writing this on Saturday morning and recalling events of yesterday and I know there are many small things I learned in passing, by reading, talking and interacting but nothing is stepping forward to announce itself right now. It’s one of those days of learning whilst not knowing you’re learning. Accumulating knowledge, stored in the brain bank and used subconsciously. Today I will try to be more conscious.
In what ways are you good at your job?
I’m good at my job in that I can make the students feel like they are having fun whilst learning a little. I come up with ideas for classes and I try to gauge my student’s feelings and abilities and help them when I can. I’m flexible, patient and understanding. Really these are not specific skills for my job of being a teacher but more for life. Life is my real job. Am I good at that? I’m still a student in that regard and hope to always be.

I took this picture because Cap was super chilled and sunk into the sofa, lost in his fur. No new pictures today so this is a default fallback cat pic!

Crooked Smile – 8th December 2022

Is he laughing at or with?
The thief of dreams
Time was never his to give
Stolen in extremes
The folly of wasted youth
The crooked smile beams
Dirty with the truth
Liew, scrubs and cleans


The media never met a potential apocalypse it didn’t like.

from Superfreakonomics

Today I’m feeling:
Happy
Today I’m grateful for:
The National Geographic English textbooks the school somehow obtained and I’ve been able to use in one of my classes and figured a way to push 4 of the better students by giving them higher graded books. I hope it pushes them a little.
The best thing about today was:
Playing, teaching and having fun in class, trying to motivate them and helping them find the correct answers to questions and seeing their faces light up when they get it. They may forget it by tomorrow but in those brief moments, I feel like I may be a legitimate teacher!
What was out of your control today and how did you handle it?
A few of my smart students in one class were very distracted by having their phones and I’ve noticed them slacking off a bit lately, just copying work and not really attempting to learn. Instead of getting angry or upset I talked to them after the class and let them know that I was aware of their changed behaviour and was a little disappointed by it. They looked a little sheepish as expected and I’ll have to wait and see if it has any impact. I’m pleased with myself that I kept calm this time.
Something I learned today?
From listening to the Oh Brother podcast I learned that the curmudgeonly Mark E Smith always returned his empty pint glasses to the bar. It reminds me that I usually clean up after myself in the cafes I go to when I’m finished and I wonder if I’m also a curmudgeon and this is my small act to show others that I may be a good human after all.
Are you going to do something exciting?
One would hope so…. But…. I’m not very exciting these days. Chiang Rai is not particularly exciting and it’s all suiting me just fine. I kinda miss being excited but with highs come lows and I prefer to avoid the lows. If Amy starts a business here then that will be kinda exciting. Is it stress that gives me excitement? Organising a SEA tour would be exciting but it’s the stress, the heightened awareness, the lack of sleep etc combined that holds me in awe. So, it seems the answer may be no, or, kinda….

I took this picture because this little innocuous waterfall sits outside the school cafe and I walk by it every day, noticing it but never really looking at it so today I stopped for a second to enjoy it.

Blues Understanding – 7th December 2022

Confront suffering
By making peace with the world
Whilst fighting against it
Embrace it wholeheartedly

Structure, inseparable
Death and suffering
Within lies freedom
The contradictory idea

Accept injustice as real
And never stop fighting against it
Every path is correct
With the blues understanding


Your complicated parts are your best parts. They are what make you interesting and special.

Tarzan Kay

Today I’m feeling:
Happy
Today I’m grateful for:
Google Drive and being able to store my files for lessons there and then to adapt them to suit my schedule and plans. Having this in place has made life more flexible for me and waste less of my precious time.
The best thing about today was:
Being back in the classroom, into the thick of it, enjoying what little control I have over my students. I’m sometimes surprised they ever listen to me at all. A good start to a three-day week for me.
What was out of your control today and how did you handle it?
I discovered about ten of my students did nothing for my class yesterday and when I discovered that they had the ability to do it but just that they didn’t even bother I was a little frustrated. In the end, I pushed, prodded and encouraged them and tried to show them that with a little effort, they could achieve more. I didn’t let frustration overwhelm me.
Something I learned today?
I learned that Nay at House is 30 years old though she could still get away for 19. With her poor English and my poor Thai, we used Gui as a translator and expressed our opposing opinions on fair and tan skin and our reasons for them. No deep insights from this exchange or anything standing out especially today though I’m trying to force myself to recall things that I have read in previous 24-hour periods and finding it a struggle. I was desperately trying to remember the Chekhov story I read last night which inspired me at the time and eluded me today. Coincidentally, it loosely ties in with today’s prompt about earliest memories as the story, Grisha, was about seeing the world through the eyes of a toddler.
Write about your earliest memory.
I’m not sure about my age with some of my memories but they revolve around being maybe from 4 to 8 years old in Whitehaven and I have a few different memories from then and can’t pinpoint which would be the earliest. I also know that I lived in a small hamlet called Blencogo before Whitehaven and I have a vague recollection of the house and garden there but can’t be certain I’m getting them mixed up with other memories, including one when visiting around that area in my mid-20s. I will write more about my early memories at some point.

I took this picture because this is student Amy being smart and thinking that no one will be upset by giving the wrong finger. I threatened to show her mum but she said she was not scared of her mum, so I said I’ll show her dad who I have met before and she was a bit more concerned about that! It was all in good fun though and Amy has grown up a little in the last few months and is very capable of doing my work.

The Tech Ghosts – 25th November 2022

The victim of these spectral slaves
Invited into our rooms
Ghosts of make-believe realities
On which this monster consumes
Mere cogs of a mega machine
Assimilated to technological production
With immediate planned obsolescence
And the means of its own destruction


We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.

Joseph Campbell

Today I’m feeling:
Pretty good, a little relaxed
Today I’m grateful for:
Kru Fluke coming to assist me in recording my voiceover for the flower festival this year. She helped me with pronunciation of the Thai words and translating with the audio guy. She didn’t really need to come and help but I appreciate that she did.
The best thing about today was:
Being around the students for the open day. We were all happy that we weren’t in classes. I was super happy that some of them were even doing the work I asked them to do!
What was out of your control today and how did you handle it?
I guess this is connected with the comment above. I asked my students to do some work for me as we didn’t have classes. I realised pretty quickly that many of them wouldn’t bother doing the work and most of them weren’t around to be able to follow up with. There was no way I could control this situation and whilst I feel a little disrespected by the students who won’t do the work out of laziness or sheer bloody-mindedness I have to let it go. So I’m thinking now about how I can reward those students who did do the work.
Name 10 people you love.
Amy
Hayden
Jochen
Kieran
Chrissie
Sharon
Aaron B
Kimi
Steve
Mum

I took this picture because there are new monsters everywhere.

What’s Not Mine – 24th November 2022

My favourite mug smashed to pieces
Now strewn across the kitchen floor
Happened a thousand times in my mind
And so this is what I’ve prepared for


Whenever you must learn a new skill or alter your career path later in life, you reconnect with that youthful, adventurous part of yourself.

Robert Greene

Today I’m feeling:
Mostly happy, a little tired.
Today I’m grateful for:
The Bath and Body Works car freshener that lost its smell in the car but I brought it inside and shoved it in the screen door and pierced it slightly so the fluid can slowly drip. In the afternoon the sun hits it and the bedroom smells great.
The best thing about today was:
Not having to teach. Can’t complain about days like that.
What was out of your control today and how did you handle it?
I was expecting to have to teach today but at the last minute realised that I wouldn’t be able to. I hastily prepared some work for my students to do in their own time and was able to feel that I wasn’t neglecting my students or just skipping out. I doubt if most will do my work so at least I can see who is conscientious at least.
Describe your family’s greatest catastrophe to date.
I suppose this would be my father dying which undoubtedly affected things around me but as I was less than two years old I can’t say that it affected me directly at the time. It’s also not possible to say how it has affected me since as I have nothing to compare it with. I don’t think there has been anything catastrophic in my life since though no doubt some things may have felt so at the time.

I took this picture because Kim didn’t really seem to mind balancing across these parts of the sofa.